Sunday Arepas

This Sunday had its ups and downs.  Around late morning, when I walked out of my door, the weather seemed misty and cloudy.  As I made my way to another part of Brooklyn to see my friend Raphael and his works in the studio, I hoped that the sun would soon come out to wipe away all this melancholy in the sky.  And it did.  Surprisingly and ironically, my then also heart-felt melancholia was actually cured by another kind of distant longing and nostalgia for something that I did not have direct experience or relations with yet I still felt a sense of connection to. 

Raphael Zollinger is an artist who is very well-versed in many different mediums and has produced works in sculpture, installation, photo, prints and works on paper.  All of which attempts to bridge between the political and the conceptual while utilizing the formal and material processes of the aforementioned mediums.  Though, on this Sunday I was only looking at his works in photo and prints, and they belonged to a series of works all under the name of Devotional Pictures.

First, I was very intrigued by the faint and seemingly fading images that appeared almost consistently in these works.  In the past and until recently, I have had an increasing affinity to old family photographs and photographs taken decades before my time.  Through these aged photographs, they always seem to present to me those perfect moments of happiness and bliss.  Certainly, the longing for these unattainable blissful moments of innocence and playfulness is heightened because they are from the unknown past.  What is also interesting about these works is that they also play with these ideas of fictional memory and the actual past.  In other words, what we remember is perhaps not exactly what was recorded at the time.  Furthermore, in this photo and sculptural work, the image has been divided up into fragments within frames and almost presents itself as a jigsaw puzzle.  To me the breaking down and then putting all together the pieces of this old photograph is just like how we remember things from the past, that it is like putting together a puzzle with only the bits and pieces we could gather from various sources we could find.  Then inevitably, there would be gaps and loose ends to the story like in this piece when the frames also serve to isolate each of the fragments with gaps in between.  Eventually, the bits and pieces of the story all come back together again when you take a few steps back from it. Going back to these specific images that has been incorporated, they derive from the post-colonial experience that is part of Raphael's personal history. Formally, these works merge specific aspects of the languages of photography, painting and in some cases sculpture into unified compositions.

Finally, as my Sunday has came to and end, I am so glad that I had the chance to see Raphael, his cats, his works and to have shared those delicious arepas during our late breakfast and early lunch time. 


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